Scientology was created in 1952 by science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics. It was then incorporated into the Church of Scientology in 1953. Many have said the church has helped them change their life through its spiritual rehabilitation and counseling aka: auditing. However, other members say that this “healing” comes at a price and allege that the Church is only interested in their money. They also claim that officials knowingly defrauded Church funds and used those funds for their own gain.
The Church is known for harassing critics, including members with grievances and is not afraid of costly litigation making members with legitimate claims often reluctant to come forward. Nevertheless, in January of this year, attorneys for the plaintiffs, Theodore Babbitt of Babbitt & Johnson P.A., of West Palm Beach, and Ronald P. Weil of Weil Quaranta, P.A. filed a lawsuit on behalf of ex-Church members, Luis A. Garcia Saz and his wife, Maria Del Rocio Burgos Garcia of Irvine, California in one such case against the Church of Scientology.
The lawsuit accuses the Church of nine counts of fraud and breach of contract over the loss of more than $420,000 invested in Scientology building projects that were never completed. It also charges that counseling services, accommodations and humanitarian initiatives were never provided with Church officials at the highest levels knowingly committing fraud.
According to the lawsuit:
- “The Church, under the leadership of David Miscavige, has strayed from its founding principles and morphed into a secular enterprise whose primary purpose is taking people’s money.”
- “In more recent years the Church has added large, high-pressure fundraising drives as its primary source of generating revenue.”
- The Church also “improperly utilized the contributions and deposits to, among other things, engage ranks of professionals to stifle inquiries into the Church’s activities and finances, to intimidate members and ex-members, to finance the lavish lifestyle of Miscavige and to fill the coffers of the Church or its subsidiary/affiliated organizations.”
It’s likely this case is the first in a series of fraud suits by former Church members against the following five Church entities doing business in Clearwater, Florida:
- The Church of Scientology Religious Trust, a nonprofit trust based in Clearwater, established to solicit donations
- The Church of Scientology FLAG Service Organization, Inc., a Clearwater-based corporation providing ministerial services
- The Church of Scientology FLAG SHIP Service Organization, a foreign nonprofit ministering religious services aboard a Caribbean ship operating as a religious retreat
- IAS Administrations, Inc., a Delaware corporation with principal offices in Clearwater and the official membership organization of Scientology
- United States IAS Members Trust, based in Los Angeles but doing substantial business in Clearwater.
If you or someone you know needs legal representation regarding Church of Scientology fraud, contact West Palm Beach Scientology litigation attorney, Theodore Babbitt at Babbitt & Johnson, P.A. for a Free Consultation and Case Evaluation. Call us at 561-684-2500 or toll free at 888-666-0523.
*Additional Scientology litigation resources: The entire 35 page lawsuit http://www.babbitt-johnson.com//Complaint-filed-copy.PDF